MP slammed over rail bill

Councillor Scott Dickinson
Councillor Scott Dickinson

A would-be MP has criticised the incumbent in north Northumberland for not backing a Labour bill on the future of rail services.

The Railways (Public Sector Operators) Bill, which would amend the Railways Act 1993 to permit public-sector railway operators, had its first reading in the House of Commons on October 29.

Sir Alan Beith MP inside his Westminster office.

Sir Alan Beith MP inside his Westminster office.

The motion to move to the next stage was carried by 196 votes to 38, but one of those who voted against it was Sir Alan Beith MP.

In July 2009, Labour set up Directly Operated Railways to run the East Coast franchise after the previous franchise collapsed. It is due to be re-privatised in March 2015.

Labour’s Propsective Parliamentary Candidate, Scott Dickinson, said: “It’s now obvious that north Northumberland ConDems are waging an ideological war on the public sector.

“They’ve allowed the privatisation of search and rescue at RAF Boulmer, the privatisation of HMP Acklington and are actively voting to support the reduction of services under the re-reprivatisation of the East Coast mainline.

“Sir Alan’s hypocrisy over this botched privatisation in the making is astounding, but comes as no surprise after the ConDems attacks on public services.”

But Sir Alan said: “It was the declared policy of the Labour government that the East Coast service should be returned to a private operator, and if they had wanted to keep it in public ownership, they would have needed to change the bidding system, which they completely failed to do.

“Liberal Democrats in Government are overseeing the biggest investment in our rail infrastructure since the Victorian era, worth £16billion, meaning better stations, more services, more carriages and more seats, in stark contrast to decades of underinvestment by successive Conservative and Labour governments.

“The line now needs further investment to improve the trains and keeping the line in public hands will not get us the level of investment we need.”